Ukraine: Russian tanks enter minefield in Vuhledar
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The Ukrainian military has claimed that they destroyed at least 130 Russian tanks over a three-week battle for the eastern coal-mining town of Vuhledar. Officials told the New York Times it was the biggest tank battle of the war in what amounts to a humiliating loss for Vladimir Putin. Footage from the three weeks showed a column of Russian tanks being ambushed by Ukrainian soldiers hiding in the nearby forested area; as they attempted to turn around to flee the Ukrainian fire, they set off deadly mines laid by the defending nation in the nearby fields.
Over the course of three weeks, in an extended battle, the Russian forces sent forward dozens of columns of tanks to try to penetrate the Ukrainian lines in a field next to Vuhledar.
The attack came after Ukraine’s Armed Forces claimed to have destroyed “almost an entire brigade” of Russia’s elite 155th naval infantry in Vuhledar in February. Russian forces in their latest wave were reportedly poorly-trained, newly-conscripted soldiers as a result of the heavy losses last month.
In one indication that Russia is running short of experienced tank commanders, for example, Ukrainian soldiers said they captured a medic who had been reassigned to operate a tank.
Owing to the lack of battlefield experience, the Russians in Vuhledar appeared unfamiliar with Ukraine’s ambush tactics, which they have been using throughout the invasion.
Ukrainian Sergeant Knignitsky, who is stationed in Vuhledar, said: “We studied the roads they used, then hid and waited.”
The deputy commander of Ukraine’s 1st Mechanized Battalion of the 72nd brigade, Lt. Vladislav Bayak, from an abandoned house near the frontline, described how they had carried out the devastating ambush attacks.
Working from a bunker, Lieutenant Bayak said he spotted the first column of roughly 15 tanks and armoured personnel carriers (APC) approaching them via drone footage.
He said they were “ready” for the attack and “knew something like this would happen”, so as the Russian column arrived, the Ukrainian brigade was in position.
The Ukrainians had mined two fields, through which a safe dirt path ran, forcing the Russian tanks to funnel down the track.
As they neared the end of the road, anti-tank teams were hiding in the tree line, armed with American infrared-guided Javelins and Ukrainian laser-guided Stugna-P missiles.
When Lieutenant Bayak gave the signal – “To battle!” – the Ukrainian brigade opened fire on the Russian column, forcing them to frantically try to turn around and retreat.
But on such a narrow road, the Russian tanks had no choice but to turn into the mined fields, causing the vehicles to explode.
Blown-up tanks then acted as impediments, slowing or stalling the column. At that point, Ukrainian artillery opened fire, blowing up more armour and killing soldiers who were clambering out of disabled machines.
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After three weeks of similar-style attacks, the detritus of the Russian tanks littered the farm fields around Vuhledar, according to Ukrainian military drone footage.
Ukraine’s military said Russia had lost at least 130 tanks and armoured personnel carriers in the battle.
While that figure could not be independently verified, geolocated videos have since been released of some of the attacks on social media.
Ukraine does not disclose how many weapons it loses.
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